Valentine’s Day Safety Tips for Pet Owners

February 10, 2016

valentine safetyBy Laurie Darroch

Valentine gifts and tokens of love may be wonderful for the humans in your life, but many of the traditional presents we give each other may be dangerous for your dogs and cats. Those seemingly innocuous gifts can injure or even kill your pet if they ingest them.

Chocolates and Other Foods

A heart-shaped box full of delectable chocolates may be just the ticket to please your Valentine, but those sweet treats can make your pets very sick. Chocolate contains theobromine which is similar to caffeine. The darker and richer the chocolate, the more dangerous it is for dogs and cats.

Many dogs and cats do like the smell and taste of chocolate. If they happen to grab one small piece of milk chocolate, part of a chocolate chip cookie or a dropped M & M, it is not likely to make them extremely ill. Leaving an unattended box of chocolates sitting where your pets can reach them, however, is a siren call many can’t resist.

The gourmet and dark baker’s chocolate varieties of candies and baked goods are the most harmful of the chocolate Valentine’s Day goodies. Chocolate can also contain high amounts of fat which is not good for your pets.

Chocolate treats containing grapes, sultanas or raisins make the consumption even more dangerous. Chocolate covered coffee beans contain both caffeine and theobromine. Chocolate covered macadamia nuts are unsafe for dogs in particular.

Every pet will have a different reaction to chocolate. It is best to keep all Valentine gifts containing chocolate safely out of reach so they avoid having even a taste of it. Prevention is much better than an emergency trip to the vet.

Those cute little message hearts or sugarless treats can be unsafe for pets too.  Many sugarless or low calorie candy products such as chewing gum, baked goods and breath mints contain Xylitol, a natural sweetener that is not good for your dogs and cats. It’s not as easily identifiable as chocolate is, so reading labels is important.

Stuffed Toys

Not all stuffed toys are pet safe. The scented varieties may be filled with wonderful smells but stuffed with plant matter that is dangerous for a dog or cat to consume. If your dog likes to chew stuffed toys apart, they may ingest the contents.

Besides the stuffing and fabrics, adornments such as buttons, bows, attvalentine safety trishached edible candies or even attached jewelry may get eaten as well if your pet gets a hold of a stuffed toy they should not have.


You may not think small pieces of jewelry sitting on a table or counter are a temptation for your pets. However, just watch a cat batting around some sparkly object they find and you can imagine how an eye-catching piece of jewelry that also makes noise might be enticing. If there is residue from chocolates or other tasty treats on them, the scent alone may draw your pet to the jewelry.


Beautiful though they may be, some flowers and plants can make a pet very sick. Roses may arrive with thorns attached. Flowers may be sprayed with toxic chemicals. If your pets are chewers and likely to eat plants or Valentine flower arrangements, ask for ones that are pet safe.

Lilies are used in many floral arrangements, but are one of the most dangerous flowers for cats and dogs. The toxic substance in lilies is present in most parts of the flowers and can even be found in the vase’s water.


If you want to include your beloved dog or cat in the Valentine’s Day gift giving, remember that their wants and needs are simple. Although that pretty jewel studded collar might be nice for your dog or cat, it is really more for you than them. Your pets are happy with your attention and love. If you want to get them something, a favorite package of CANIDAE treats is always appreciated. A pet safe toy will make them happy too, or simply spend some time playing with them.

If a pet happens to get injured by, or ingests a Valentine’s Day gift meant for humans, keep an eye on them and take them to the vet immediately if they are showing signs of a reaction. Older dogs and cats, pets that are ill, and kittens and puppies may be more affected by the consumption of a dangerous Valentine’s Day present.

Prevention is the best medicine of all. If your pet can get into it, and it is tempting, there is a good chance they will. Be a responsible pet owner and keep Valentine’s Day goodies out of reach from your dog or cat.

Top photo by DaPuglet/Flickr
Bottom photo by Trish Hamme/Flickr

Read more articles by Laurie Darroch

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